The following content was written and researched by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
This report was originally published in January

Conclusion: The future of giving by and for women 

“This first-of-its-kind study, comprising in-depth interviews conducted with high-networth social-change-focused donors, reveals the nuance, complexity, and potential in philanthropic giving by and for women and girls. While these interviews are not generalizable to a larger population of donors, this study deepens our understanding of women donors who have made million-dollar commitments to women and girls, revealing the power of their philanthropy broadly, and the individual agency of each donor herself. While life experiences often guide women’s gender-related giving, the acquisition of wealth gives these donors hyperagency, a platform to leverage their philanthropy and exert influence on others. Unlike the vast majority of donors, these women are using their influence and resources in creative and wide-ranging ways in an attempt to remedy gender inequality. Regardless of background, life experience, or age, they have signaled their belief in the importance of investing in women’s and girls’ lives.

While qualitative research has limitations, this study has identified several important differences that may be true for an even larger group of donors. First, as part of their life cycle of giving, these women engaged in significant education and research before making their million-dollar gifts. Second, they made strategic funding decisions with their giving, focused on systems-level change. And third, they were open to taking risks with their philanthropy. In the process, these women have embraced philanthropy as a method to bring about social change in partnership with nonprofit organizations. Organizations seeking to engage such donors will need to keep shared decision-making with them at the core of their relationships and recognize that many of these donors seek personal relationships and partnerships, whenever possible and appropriate. While the portrayal of a typical philanthropist may still conjure images of an older, white male, women are increasingly stepping out from the shadows to claim their position as influencers and leaders willing to be named and recognized for their giving.”

To read the full report, click here.